Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Do You Tweet?

When I was little, I hung out with my dad a lot because everything he did looked fun and everything mom did looked like work. As long as I was quiet I could watch him repair the lawnmower. But, if I started asking a bunch of “what’s this” or “why’s that” questions, I had to run off and play elsewhere. I was too young to understand the answers and he had a full to-do list that day. So, I honed the skill of learning by watching. It’s been a very helpful tool throughout my life, but it does have limitations. To this day, I can remove a carburetor and clean it, but I still have no idea what a carburetor does. I could find out, but it doesn’t seem as interesting now as it did then because I have other things to do that are more meaningful to me.

I’ve just shared a story from my life with you. Why? Because I hope it will give us a point of connection. Will it help me sell a book to you? Maybe, maybe not. What if I told you this story? I’m a geek with decades of technical writing and site building experience and I can tell you, in layman’s terms, the secrets of how you can do it for yourself. Now do you want to buy my books? Probably, especially if you need that information.

The point is, building a network to attract clients means connecting with them in some way. The old cliché, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” seems to have a direct bearing on why some folks succeed in garnering and retaining thousands of followers on social media sites and why others struggle to get only hundreds and then get routinely dropped.

For the past year, I’ve been quietly watching how people who offer services or products tweet and post to other sites like Facebook. The most successful folks seem to have a special blend of personal and professional tweets. The backbone of social media is people talking to people. But, so many folks who are building an Internet-only business work from home and tend to let the line between personal and professional become a bit hazy compared to folks who still work in cubicle farms. Maybe that’s because home-based business entrepreneurs are working in their house shoes.

The question Twitter posses to the masses is, “What are you doing?” Some folks take this literally as an inquiry to the mundane chores of everyday life. They use Twitter like a day-minder with entries every half hour to announce that they are doing paperwork, reading emails, or going out to the grocery. Is that really sharing something meaningful with followers? Is it something your potential clients want to read about you? Do you follow folks who tweet that way?

Some folks only tweet announcements about their next gig or links where you can download a freebie as a tease for a product they sell or to get you interested in their upcoming teleseminar. They post the exact same tweet ten times a day.

Other micro-bloggers use Twitter to deliver links to content-rich articles over time. They don’t push their business name in front of their target audience. Instead, they become known as the expert of helpful info. That method builds credence and loyalty among potential clients. After a while, they become THE go-to person in their field.

Lots of Twitter users have found apps like TweetDeck helpful in following folks by group. It not only lets them see the posts made by the ones they are following directly, it also shows any posts or @replies that contain that person’s handle as well. It’s useful for following whole conversations. Some folks aren’t aware that what they think is a semi-private reply is actually being read by everyone following the person with whom they are tweeting.

Some tweets are very personal in nature. Sometimes this is appropriate to connecting with an audience. If you’re an author promoting a self-help or motivational book, sharing stories is a powerful method to encourage empathy among readers. If you have kids, others may enjoy sharing the joys and dilemmas of posts on family life.

How do you tweet? Is it based more on your personal life or your business? Is that working for you? Leave a comment and share your tweeting experience.



CyberCoder said...

I try to Tweet to help others. I try (keyword there) to remember to pay it forward and let it go around. I had cancer years ago, and going through the devastation of chemotherapy taught me a lot towards helping others and allowing others to help me.

Kathleen said...

I have observed much of the same as yourself. I find I really enjoy, much like Warren Ellis began, to tweet links and facts that are personally interesting and professionally linked. My filter question for a post, "Is this helpful, uplifting and really worth some else's time to read or follow?" That way, I hope to only post quality comments, albeit more rarely, and connect with others in the world who are positive in outlook, and choose to connect with the same.